DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Teacher turnover continues and school districts across the Triangle are racing to fill the hundreds of vacancies left open. Wednesday night it was Durham Public Schools working to recruit the next group of educators at their career fair.
"I'm coming out to hopefully be a teacher," said Affa- Shawntae Hill.
She's trying to make her way back to the classroom after working virtually for the last few years.
"I also have ESL experience, teaching English as a second language, and I really enjoy that. I think it was my time to come back into the classroom and support my community," Hill said.
The new school year starts in 33 days and the Durham Public School System has 200 openings for teachers and teacher assistants. Schools with the greatest need packed Southern High School Wednesday night looking to fill their openings.
Candidates were interviewed on the spot. Recruiters also discussed the bonuses available for teachers and bus drivers in the district.
"We have schools here that had multiple vacancies. I would say about four or five more for more vacancies," said Michelle Hayes- Durham Public Schools, Exec. Dir. Talent Acquisition
Hayes leads the recruitment efforts for the district. Before that, she spent 14 years as a principal knowing the challenges of the industry firsthand.
"Teacher salary, that could play a role in and a lot of it. But people just change careers. They come into teaching; they leave teaching. But we're trying to get them back into the teaching world because we need good teachers for our students," said Hayes.
Despite their efforts Wednesday night, there is still concern some students will start the school year with a substitute.
"That actually was my situation for my daughter, you know, and I was open-minded to it," said Janae White. "We went through like two teachers before we even got to our actual teacher. And, you know, I don't feel like she was behind on anything. I feel like each teacher did what they were supposed to."
And she's doing what she's supposed to as a parent. Taking the time to learn more about the schools in the district. So did, Sharaiya Winn whose new to the district but teacher turnover is an old problem for her.
"Last year, it was hard for us in Texas because they needed teachers. So, it was hard, then with Covid it put her far behind," she said. "So, I'm just like at this point, as a single mom I need to do all I can."